Carol Lee did not disappoint the home crowd rooting for her, as she swept the singles and doubles titles in the 2018 Northern Marianas Junior Championships.
Lee first notched the doubles crown with partner Wing Ka Lin of Hong Kong last Saturday at the Pacific Islands Club Saipan hard courts. The top-ranked pair was pitted against No. 4 and Japan’s Nanari Katsumi and Mua Shigeta in the finals and needed only two sets to prevail in their afternoon match, 6-1, 6-2.
The straight set victory over the Japanese pair came just a day after Lee and Lin were tested to their limits in the semifinals. The eventual champions downed No. 3 and Japan’s Manami Ukita and Ai Yamaguchi in the first set, 6-2, but were denied the outright win when the latter pair escaped with a 7-6 (5) triumph in the second set.
Then in the super-tiebreaker third set, the opposing teams engaged in another close fight before Lee and Lin recorded a 10-7 win to bag the finals berth at upper half of the draw.
At the lower half, Katsumi and Shigeta also went the distance against their semis foes to earn the right to face Lee and Lin in the finale. Katsumi and Shigeta were badly beaten by their compatriot Mio Kozaki and Hong Kong’s Chui Kei Leung in the opening set, 0-6, but stunned the No. 2 duo after sweeping the last two, 7-5, 11-9.
Meanwhile, Lee had a familiar opponent in the singles finals, as she faced her doubles partner in last Sunday’s title game. The CNMI player then showed no love lost to her teammate after beating the Hong Kong bet, 6-2, 6-1.
“Even though she was my doubles partner, an opponent is an opponent. I won’t give her a chance to win against me in the finals. I worked hard every point and focused on my strategy to win this match,” Lee said.
“I knew my strengths which are my service game and being aggressive, pressuring her and making her give a chance ball for me to approach and end the point with a volley,” the world No. 241 added.
Before dueling Lin, the No. 1 seed Lee also squared off against another Hong Kong player in Leung and recorded 6-3, 6-3 victory to march into the finals. The 16-year-old Commonwealth netter did not drop a single set en route to winning the tournament, as she earlier swept Japan’s Yuina Igarashi, 6-1, 6-3, and Kozaki, 6-4, 6-3.
The No. 2 seed Lin, on the other hand, labored through a 6-3, 0-6, 6-2 win over the unranked South Korean Ji Woo Choi to make it to the semifinals. The Hong Kong player, who eased past Australia’s Sasha Nelson in her opening match, then topped Yamaguchi, 6-0, 6-2, to arrange a finals showdown against Lee.
In other results, Hong Kong’s Chak Lam Wong duplicated Lee’s sweep in the ranking tournament after outclassing the Philippines’ Jose Antonio Tria in the singles finals, 6-4, 7-6 (9).
Earlier in the doubles title match, Wong teamed up with Thailand’s Guntinun Sootinun-Opart in slipping past South Korea’s Minsung Kim and Dong Gyu Oh, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (3), 10-7.